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Ways of Knowing

Freedom of Information, Access to Persons and 'Flexible' Bureaucracy in Scotland

Gemma John

Keywords: bureaucracy; knowledge; public servants; transparency; trust

The Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 provides access to information held by public bodies in Scotland. This article explores the way in which it also had the capacity to provide access to persons working for these public bodies. It was through engaging with these persons that citizens could obtain access to information under the new law. Nevertheless, the technicalities of the law had the effect of depersonalizing the actions of those working for the public bodies it covered, such that they were no longer visible as 'persons'. This article argues that the proponents of the law prioritized impersonal legal procedure over the personal exchanges that the law facilitated, thereby ultimately undermining their own objective of transparent government.

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